Environmental Must-Reads – September 23, 2013

Brown signs bill on fracking, upsetting both sides of oil issue

The nation’s toughest restrictions on a controversial oil drilling technique known as fracking were signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday.

Hotly opposed by the oil industry, the measure “establishes strong environmental protections and transparency requirements,” the governor said in a statement.

California’s New Anti-Fracking Law Draws Opposition From Environmentalists And Big Oil

On Friday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state’s first fracking bill into law, which will impose regulations on the oil and gas industry in the state but will also open up the state’s vast Monterey Shale reserves for drilling.

Oil Firms Seek to Unlock Big California Field

California’s Monterey Shale formation is estimated to hold as much as two-thirds of the recoverable onshore shale-oil reserves in the U.S.’s lower 48 states, but there’s a catch: It is proving very hard to get.

Disturbing trends with fracking

Opinion asked Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas — a statewide, citizen-funded advocate for clean air, clean water and open spaces — about fracking and water.

Pa. well site will be focus of fierce legal battle

The Marquardt well site is indistinguishable from most Marcellus Shale drilling locations: It encompasses about five acres of graded farmland, covered with gravel, containing two active natural gas wells.

But this well pad was the scene of a crime, according to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office, which on Sept. 10 announced charges against a subsidiary of the oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. for a spill that occurred here in 2010.

Will NY natural gas future break from problems of its past? DEC lacks funds to plug tens of thousands of leaky wells

The debate over natural gas development in New York has mostly been about the future. But residents living over New York’s abundant gas reserves must also figure out what to do about the past.

Environmental group says Eagle Ford health risks being ignored

A new report from the nonprofit environmental group Earthworks says government regulators are ignoring health risks in the Eagle Ford Shale region.

The report, “Reckless Endangerment While Fracking the Eagle Ford,” focuses on Karnes County, considered the core of the field with some of the most intense drilling. Earthworks took air samples, used an infrared camera that makes releases of methane and volatile organic compounds visible and looked at state investigations of various sites.

Sites sought for region’s fracking residue

Battelle scientists are leading a search for sites where companies can pump fracking waste underground in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The two-year project, funded by a $1.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, is a response to the growing amount of polluted wastewater that bubbles out of fracked shale wells. Millions of barrels of the waste are pumped into disposal wells, many of which are in Ohio.

BP: State can’t order removal of anchors

BP has filed a federal lawsuit against Louisiana authorities over an August order that the oil giant remove anchors that were placed in the Gulf of Mexico following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The boom had been placed in Gulf waters in an attempt to keep oil away from the coast.

Ex-Halliburton Official Charged With Destroying Evidence In Gulf Oil Spill Disaster

Anthony Badalamenti, Halliburton Energy Services Inc.’s cementing technology director, was criminally charged with one count of destroying evidence related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in federal court Thursday.

Man gets 24 years for $1.2M oil spill claims fraud

A South Florida man has been sentenced to nearly 24 years in prison for attempting to defraud the BP oil spill claims fund out of more than $1.2 million.

Oil spilled into Colorado waters exceeds 25,000 gallons

The amount of oil spilled into Colorado waters has exceeded 25,000 gallons, as of Saturday.

According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), that’s the equivalent of two 300-barrel oil storage tanks.

Colorado Flooding Triggers More Oil and Gas Spills

The crisis for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) that last week’s floods created is now, thanks to community members and their cameras, set firmly onto the world stage. For the last seven days international media attention saw the immensity of the Weld County disaster, and those terrifying images of flood water colliding with oil and gas infrastructure are now the property of history.

Central Arkansas Water Utility Files Intent to Sue Exxon Over Pipeline

Central Arkansas Water (CAW) has filed a notice of intent to file a citizen lawsuit against ExxonMobil under the federal Pipeline Safety Act.

The unusual legal maneuver of notifying a party that it’ll be sued, rather than simply suing it, is dictated under the Pipeline Safety Act, which requires that potential plaintiffs give 60 days notice to the accused and the Department of Transportation, whose Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) regulates pipelines.

Oil Railway To Prince Rupert Could Carry Northern Gateway’s Capacity: Memos

CN Rail, at the urging of Chinese-owned Nexen Inc., is considering shipping Alberta bitumen to Prince Rupert, B.C., by rail in quantities matching the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, documents show.

New ad challenges economic benefits of Keystone pipeline

In a television commercial set to air today, billionaire climate-change activist Tom Steyer is launching a fresh line of attack against the Keystone XL pipeline by questioning its economic benefits.

5 Great Lakes Species Facing Threats From Big Oil Pipelines

The Great Lakes are the world’s largest surface freshwater ecosystem and their waters and shoreline areas provide habitat for a breathtaking array of wildlife. But with a recent increase in oil surging through aging pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac—the narrow waterway connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron—the chance of a devastating spill in the Great Lakes has greatly increased. Meet five Great Lakes wildlife and take action to help protect them from a toxic oil spill.

TransCanada Whistleblower Evan Vokes Details Lack of Confidence in Keystone XL

Evan Vokes never gave any thought to whistleblowers before realizing he would need to blow a shrill blast against his former employer, TransCanada, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. As an engineer he takes his oath to protect public safety seriously.

Keystone XL Pipeline Protesters To Obama: ‘No Planet Drama’

Despite the gray skies in Washington on Saturday, more than 100 protesters carrying handmade signs showed up in Lincoln Park to call on the Obama administration to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

Money flowing to build pipelines

Pipeline operators have been roaring into public markets in search of badly needed capital, diving into an untapped money pool as the country grapples with a lack of energy transportation infrastructure.

Yield-starved investors, bouncing from low interest rates on bonds to a choppy stock market, have appeared happy to fork over the millions that midstream companies — most of them tax-advantaged master limited partnerships — have asked for in the past year.

Greenpeace ship in Russian arctic towed to port

The Russian Coast Guard is towing a Greenpeace ship toward the nearest port after armed officers stormed it following a protest against oil drilling in Arctic waters.

The agency said Friday that the ship’s captain refused to operate the Arctic Sunrise, so a Coast Guard ship has arrived at the scene to tow the ship to the port of Murmansk. The trip is expected to take three to four days.

Total fined $8.75 million for Port Arthur refinery air violations

Total Petrochemical has been fined $8.75 million for violating a 2007 air pollution settlement with the federal government, the Justice Department said Friday.

At the heart of the violation is the number of flaring incidents at Total’s Port Arthur refinery, how it reported them, and whether it was in accordance with a 2007 settlement in which the company had agreed to reduce its emissions.

Ecuador protests denial of US visas for plaintiffs in Chevron oil damages case

Ecuador’s foreign ministry announced on Friday that the US has seemingly denied visas to a delegation that was set to travel to the UN General Assembly in New York to present their case regarding an ongoing dispute against Chevron-Texaco.

Fukushima residents question radiation cleanup effort

Across much of Fukushima’s rolling green countryside they descend on homes like antibodies around a virus, men wielding low-tech tools against a very modern enemy: radiation.

Power hoses, shovels and mechanical diggers are used to scour toxins that rained down from the sky 30 months ago. The job is exhausting, expensive and, according to some, doomed to failure.

Humankind’s Most Dangerous Moment: Fukushima Fuel Pool at Unit 4. “This is an Issue of Human Survival.”

We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focussed on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4.

Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1,300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.

Wrecked Fukushima power plant to become training base – report

Fukushima nuclear plant will be turned into a training base, said TEPCO, according to Japanese media. The company also discovered loose bolts in a storage tank which are believed to have caused the daily leak of 300 tons of toxic water into the ocean.

M-5.9 earthquake jolts Fukushima; 2 injured

An earthquake with an intensity of 5 on the Japanese scale of 7 struck Fukushima Prefecture at 2:25 a.m. Friday. No damage to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was reported.

The earthquake was centered in Hamadori in the prefecture and registered a strong 5 in Iwaki in the prefecture.

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